Death From Above 1979
The Physical World


3.0
good

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
September 17th, 2014 | 36 replies


Release Date: 09/09/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Indeterminate form.

I don’t want to belabor a point repeated ad nauseum in this space and other publications about the new Death From Above 1979 record, so if you’d like a succinct, accurate reflection of The Physical World, here it is: it sounds like a DFA1979 record. If you liked You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, you will like this as well. More impressive than Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler repairing a seemingly shattered relationship and successfully producing a follow-up to one of the last decade’s most indelible albums is just how out of time and place The Physical World sounds; it's as if the two never stopped making music together. The fact that The Physical World comes off like it could just as easily arrived in 2006 as it does in 2014 is a testament to its creators’ uniquely focused vision and arguably an indictment of the limits of the duo’s sound.

That’s not to say The Physical World is a carbon copy of its predecessor; there are enough twists of sound and minor stylistic shading to clearly delineate The Physical World as its own beast. Whether you prefer this new record to the same degree as the debut likely has little to do with how you feel about these minor changes, although they provide The Physical World with some of its finest moments. Grainger’s more confident in his voice, allowing him to indulge in a bit of melodic power pop on “White Is Red” and appear totally in control of sleeker, slinkier songs like “Cheap Talk.” The riffs are still there, loud and chunky, making it a pleasant surprise when the bass drops off into those “oh-woo-ooh-oohs” on “Trainwreck 1979” or the pair degenerate into full on noise rock on the outro to the title track. It’s nice, but the focus remains on the heart of Death From Above’s sound – the rapid fire bass propelling “Always On” among Grainger’s shuffling drums, the breathless chorus of “Right On, Frankenstein!,” the messy grime and venomous lyrics on “Government Trash.” This is what’s going to ignite the old pleasure centers, what will get the pit at the show really going. It’s more of the same, and in the case of the timeless, whirling, pogo-ing rage of You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, it was/is hard not to want to listen over and over again.

Yet for all its similarities to the classic Death From Above sound, The Physical World leaves me feeling empty, more often than not. It’s unrealistic to want a band to deliver the same goods they previously proffered a decade ago, yet Grainger and Keeler seem more than up to the task, eager, even, to please old fans. With the exception of a few cuts, however – “Always On,” the fire-alarm riff centering “Gemini,” the relentless push and pull of “The Physical World,” a couple more – these songs largely fail to click. I miss the lingering bitterness of the group in their ‘20s, the palpable wrath and bubbling temper simmering all along You’re A Woman, expelling itself in tightly coiled bursts that forced you to dance, or jump, or move, whether you wanted to or not. I don’t know if The Physical World is lacking that fire or if I’m actually the blind one. The burden of ten years of expectations makes it inevitable that not everyone will be fully satisfied; is it them, or me? Certain records follow a band for an eternity – ask Interpol about that one – and the interminable hiatus between records only added to the group’s mythic mid-00s performances. So when I listen to The Physical World, I don’t know what I want. Would I prefer DFA to expand their sound, to take the road lightly marked out by “White Is Red?” Do I want them to cut the crap and just get back to making a song as gnarly as “Romantic Rights?” Do I just want to go back in time and recreate a feeling that won’t ever exist again except in greying shades of nostalgia? At times The Physical World feels like the real deal, at others a pale imitation of a too-distinct aesthetic. Am I giving Death From Above a fair shake, or knocking them points for not living up to past glories? To be honest, my experience ten years ago makes it nearly impossible to judge my experience today. Whether that makes The Physical World a success or a failure is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to figure out.




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user ratings (132)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Bradley Harris (3.5)
10 years is a long wait, but hopefully the longest we have to wait for another DFA album...

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brandaao (4)
Fact: This is one of the best albums I've heard so far in 2014...


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2014


10453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sorry for the delay irving!

Digging: Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2014


2642 Comments


love the first sentence

Digging: Aphex Twin - Syro

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2014


7306 Comments


The fact that The Physical World comes off like it could just as easily arrived in 2006 as it does in 2014 is a testament to its creators’ uniquely focused vision and arguably an indictment of the limits of the duo’s sound.

I haven't heard the record yet, but this seems like the general consensus. Was totally hoping for a pants-burning AOTY, but oh well, at least there was that Spoon record.

sorry for the delay irving!

Rate the new U2 a 5 and all will be forgiven.

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

sportsboy
September 17th 2014


640 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

was very disappointed by this too

Digging: Oneohtrix Point Never - Rifts

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2014


977 Comments


Pretty much my thoughts on this, the last paragraph particularly. It's not that different and yet the energy which made me want to bounce around isn't there, but it might just be that I'm not 16 anymore. Still, I enjoy this a bit more than you.

Gyromania
September 17th 2014


15771 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Review nails it

Digging: Lantlos - .neon

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
September 17th 2014


13209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

damn

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

paradox1216
September 17th 2014


489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic review. Part of the reason I'm so into this might be that I had only recently discovered them when this album was announced

Digging: Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2014


10453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks! i think when you first started listening to these guys definitely has a strong influence on how you will feel about this record, although for some i'm sure it won't.

Rayn0rrr
September 17th 2014


36 Comments


Totally agree with you, including the self-uncertainty wether it's just me or them.

But that's my thinking cap on, if I take it off all I hear is some fuckin good shit that I am gonna dig to see live.

EaglesBecomeVultures
September 17th 2014


5244 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

on point

Digging: Yung Lean - Unknown Memory

TheSpirit
September 17th 2014


17879 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, this is my first experience with this band and I absolutely love it.

Digging: Wreodan Heahl - Laecig

BMDrummer
September 17th 2014


7688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

bumped my rating down for this, doesn't touch the debut at all

Digging: Shellac - Dude Incredible

SeaAnemone
September 17th 2014


20370 Comments


agreed wholeheartedly tbh
I mean I'd give it like a 2.5 but that equals like a 3.0 in Rudy Ratings™

Digging: Holy Sons - Lost Decade II

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2014


10453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i mean i can't deny it's ~good~

plasmacoil
September 17th 2014


34 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The first album is so good.

paradox1216
September 18th 2014


489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i might bump this down after a bit, it's such an immediate album that I doubt it will hold up to the same amount of quality with me jamming it this much

but it is so jammable tho DAMN

MeatSalad
September 18th 2014


14581 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Albums gr8 m8

Regulator
September 18th 2014


605 Comments


expecting this to be on par with "you're a woman..." is just nuts.

it's akin to expecting Portishead Third to be like Dummy, or At the Gates to drop their new album and it be like Slaughter of the Soul. What's gone is gone, but this is still a solid album

MeatSalad
September 18th 2014


14581 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

people don't understand how to set their own expectations properly agreed



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